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Mama Robotnik
(12-12-2012, 04:34 AM)
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Silicon Knights teamed up with Microsoft and Epic to begin what would be the final realisation of Too Human. Microsoft offered some support and funding, and Epic licensed SK their Unreal 3 engine and technologies.

As tidbits were revealed about the project, it became clear that the story and style of the previous three cancelled incarnations of Too Human, had been wholly jettisoned.

Despite sharing the same name as its aborted predecessors, Too Human for the Xbox 360 was effectively an entirely new game. The storyline of a future cop investigating the death of his partner, in a society in which man is increasingly becoming machine, will never be told. The promises of stealth progression and complex choices through a futuristic cityscape were abandoned. Instead, a more fantasy setting – a world of superhuman future cyborg Norse Gods – was presented in a loot-based action game.

Dyack’s ambition for Too Human dominated every interview of the era. He claimed the project was the summation of all that Silicon Knights learned from Shigeru Miyamoto and Hideo Kojima:

Dyack didn’t hesitate to play up his game, and play down the competition.

After a disastrous E3 showing – described by Penny Arcade as “miserable” and as making Tycho “sad” - Dyack made promises that his team were improving the game. On the internet, Dyack’s defense of Too Human became somewhat unhinged.

Despite previously comparing Too Human to Halo and Gears of War, and declaring the game to be the summation of the teachings of Kojima and Miyamoto, Dyack felt that Lair and Haze were appropriate games to beat when the review scores came out.

Dyack would go on to suggest that NeoGAF’s behaviour, both in its defiance of him and Too Human, could see the forum shut down:

While Dyack posted with abandon on the internet, there was growing tension within Silicon Knights. Too Human had showed badly at E3, and the company needed someone to blame.

It became increasingly difficult for staff to bring forward their concerns regarding Too Human’s progress, and the scapegoating of Epic:

Joanne Dyack, Denis’ wife, was the senior HR figure of Silicon Knights. According to one source, she would report all misgivings back to her husband.

Dyack’s dominance was such that he had policies on what they could, and could not say. One word in particular was verboten.

As Too Human was released to mediocre reviews and bargain bins, Dyack launched two volleys. The first was aimed at Epic, a lawsuit to hold them accountable for the failure of Too Human. This decision would be the one that would eventually destroy the company and cost the jobs of hundreds of people, but we’ll come to that later.

The second volley was aimed at the players and reviewers, for being too incapable to fully appreciate the wonder of his magnum opus.

Dyack also proclaimed Too Human to be a success against the competition, while simultaneously inventing arbitrary “marketing” criteria to exclude much of the competition from being eligible to contest his boast:

Some interesting material I’ve found across a range of portfolios – including character and environment renders showing the often-overlooked detail that Silicon Knights put into the game.

(Sources: Various portfolios – 1 2 3 4 and 5 )

Silicon Knights ended their previous game with prestige and security. They ended Too Human with mockery, uncertainty for the future, a looming lawsuit with Epic, and an impotence to fulfil their “dream” of a Too Human trilogy.

Too Human II - “Rise of the Giants”

Too Human III

Partner: None
Status: Cancelled

Early in the development of Too Human (360), Silicon Knights announced their ambition to make a trilogy.

Dyack, on behalf of the company, confirmed that the Too Human trilogy was quite literally, the dream project of Silicon Knights:

Following the disastrous E3 presentation of Too Human, Silicon Knights’ ambitions became difficult to reconcile. Penny Arcade offered this scathing take on the situation. A former Silicon Knights staffer asserts that the ambition came from the company’s collective ego, inflated by the successes of their earlier games.

Too Human was released, and was a commercial and critical bomb. The game ended on a cliffhanger, with Loki staring at a giant walking creature. A piece of concept art, photographed within Silicon Knights’ studio, would strongly suggest that the working title for Too Human II was “Rise of the Giants”.

This would tie into a blog post that Dyack gave during the development of Too Human.

Dyack would also go on to confirm the themes of Too Human II and Too Human III:

Dyack confirmed that work on Too Human II and III begun immediately after the release of Too Human:

The work stopped in unknown circumstances. Too Human II and Too Human III were jointly cancelled, and Dyack’s “dream” of the Too Human Trilogy died with them.

Silicon Knights would only release one more game. But before that, came a cavalcade of aborted and cancelled projects.

Silent Hill: The Box

The Box

The Ritualyst

Partners: SEGA, later THQ
Status: Cancelled

From this point, references will be made to this document – the final judgement of the Epic V Silicon Knights legal contest:

The Box: This convoluted, failed project meandered through partners until it fell apart. The short version of events, as surmised by NeoGAF’s own Shiggy:

Evidence supports Shiggy’s assertion that the project began as a Silent Hill proposal:

It is unclear if Konami were ever presented the project (and therefore outright rejected it), or if SEGA was approached first. Regardless, without either company going into specifics about the game, SEGA and Silicon Knights jointly announced a collaborative project. Dyack boasted that they would redefine the “heights” of the gaming medium together.

A former Silicon Knights programmer reveals that The Box was an “open world survival horror” game intended for release on the PS3 and 360:

I’ve been able to find some interesting media on the game in this form.

(Source: StudioQube, the site of former SK artists Michael Chomicki and Cyprian Chomicki)

(Source: Francisco Alvarez’s Portfolio)

(Source: Charles Lim’s portfolio website – it should be noted that the images have the word “Unreal” in their filenames, suggesting that despite the legal action against Epic, Silicon Knights were still using the Unreal Engine following Too Human)

(Source: Don Toledo)

A great contribution from Shiggy:

Originally Posted by Shiggy

Perhaps from The Box? Dan Tozer worked at SK from October 1997 till July 2012.

The game was abandoned by SEGA, picked up by THQ and renamed “The Ritualyst”. There is no known media from this point in its development. During the Silicon Knights v Epic trial, SK’s “expert” witness Terry Lloyd asserted that the game would have sold 2.8 million units, through completely insubstantial means that would be utterly dismissed by the court.

As the case also evidences – The Box / The Ritualyst was cancelled in 2009. Once again, years of work were abandoned.

Siren in the Maelstrom

Partner: Unclear
Status: Cancelled

Telefilm Canada announced the title of this project on their website, in a list of projects approved financial support via the Canada New Media Fund. The project is also mentioned in the Epic v Silicon Knights legal documents.

No information exists about this cancelled project. The following concept images are from a former Silicon Knights staffer from a cancelled SK project – they could possibly be from Maelstrom. With the connotations of “maelstrom” suggesting a chaotic, irrational place – these abstract and chaotic environment sketches could be our only glimpse into its pandemonium:

(Source: Online Portfolio of SK’s John Dobbie)

The only comment acknowledging the existence of Siren in the Maelstrom, is from Denis Dyack when asked about Telefilm leaking the project.

The Sandman

Partner: Unclear
Status: Cancelled

The Silicon Knights v Epic lawsuit revealed two more cancelled projects:

It is unclear if Sandman relates to Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. The only image I have been able to obtain for this cancelled project is the following image – a prototype GUI:

(Source: StudioQube, the site of former SK artists Michael Chomicki and Cyprian Chomicki)

King’s Quest

Partner: Unclear
Status: Cancelled

Another game revealed in the lawsuit. The game made it to a prototype before it was cancelled. I have been able to find no media on this.

X-Men Destiny

Partner: Activision
Status: Released!

The development of Silicon Knights’ final game, the bombsite that is X-Men Destiny, is a fascinating story. It has also been told in this fantastically-researched article by Andrew McMillen that I really, really suggest you read. He’s reached out to sources and tells the story of what happened far better than I could. A must read.